Lips Dyed Pomegranate Red pt. 1

I recently started thinking of Hades and Persephone again (as evidenced by my last post)…but then I started wondering what would be different if Hades were also a woman. And I liked the idea so much that I couldn’t help but run with it. So here is part one!

It was uncommon for Hades to venture from the Underworld. It was, after all, her demesnes, her element, and where she was most at ease. Yet there were some things it simply didn’t have. She had come to terms with the still Elysian Plains, created an escape in the River Lethe, and she saw to it at her subjects weren’t suffering (those who deserved that were left to Tartaros).

Yet “not suffering” seemed to be the best she could manage. Lethe helped them to let go of the pain from their lives, the pain of loved ones lost, but it wounded her deeply that this was their only option. To wallow in misery or forget and be empty. Was that a way to spend eternity? Was it all she could offer? No. She felt it was irresponsible on her part. What sort of Queen allowed her subjects to lose their very essence simply because she’d yet to find a better solution? She refused to accept it.

So she began to visit Earth, quietly, surreptitiously, often in a harmless guise that could easily go unnoticed. She observed. What was there about this plane that made it so much more valuable? There was danger, of which the Underworld had little. There was passion, which she supposed they also lacked. Everywhere, in vivid color and sound, there was life abundant, life of all kinds, places to go and intense experiences to have. That, she couldn’t claim. And…

It was during one of these visits, somewhere in the middle of the year, that she first encountered the height of Summer. It was gleaming sunlight and orchids in bloom, flashes of agile wings between the trees. It was overwhelming for every sense: even the sounds and the texture of the air were inescapable. This was more purely Earth than she had ever seen. This was so essentially alive she hardly felt worthy to experience it.

This, she realized, was not the work of Demeter. Demeter was the nurturing mother of nature, but she was temperate and measured. She had learned balance. And this was so much. Too much to have occurred naturally, surely. Yet she didn’t meet the one who had caused it. She returned to the Underworld deeply disappointed but with renewed purpose: whoever had created that glorious burst of life could bring life anywhere, she was certain! Even a place so resistant as the realm of the Dead.

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Queen’s Return

Pomegranate-stained lips
breathe out words like liquid fire,
molten pleasure across his skin,
and suddenly it isn’t so cold.

“Six months,” she says.
“An eternity,” he answers
and holds her close in a way
he’s wanted to since she left.

Her voice is a laugh, a song,
breathless and dizzy and home.
And off the walls it echoes,
and on her tongue it’s sharp.

Hands seek flesh like growth seeks
light, desperate for something to touch,
to feel this ever deeper,
to treasure being whole.

Tart kisses unending, unbridled,
“I’m yours, I’m yours, I’m yours.”
She willingly struggles for breath
with a thirsty, lust-drunk mouth.

And rhythm. And weakness.
And those few moments for a night,
for a lifetime. To see her, still.
To see him, found. And found again. Again.

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Witchtober Day 4: Garden Witch

Okay, I have no excuses, so I’m done prefacing these. Enjoy!

There were two types of babbling filling the air of the greenhouse, and both of them were Andani’s fault. The first came from the fountain she had installed without a word to Felonia, in her greenhouse. And it had somehow surprised her when Fel had, well, fallen into it. She had been blind for years and was hardly helpless, but when the environment she was used to suddenly changed, it had literally tripped her up. She’d cursed Andani out about it and demanded she remove it—yet there it still was, flowing and burbling away as she tended her succulents.

The second babble came from Ayaka, the baby the two of them had unwittingly adopted together. It seemed the classic payment of a firstborn child for a witch’s aid persisted in the 21st century, and by sheer coincidence (or bad luck, she often thought), each parent had promised a firstborn to each of them. With only one child between the two, there weren’t many options. Thus Fel had been goaded into giving up her nomadic lifestyle in favor of Andani’s seaside home. As much as she hated the setting, like hell would she let her baby be raised by a thoughtless water witch.

“You’re teaching her gibberish,” Fel grumbled when their “conversation”  became too much to stand.

“She has to start somewhere, yes she does,” Andani said in the ridiculous baby voice she used when speaking to Ayaka. “Lalala, can you say la? La?”

“Aah,” Aya responded, rocking in her mother’s lap so the small ball of light above her head danced around. That was a gift from Fel, in fact, a protection ward that Andani had thrown a fit about.

“If you’re going to talk to her, talk to her like she’s a human being.” Despite her gruff attitude, her hands were light as they moved across the soil to be sure it was adequately hydrated and draining well enough. “Use words. Teach her something.”

“She’s not at a stage of cognitive development where she’s ready to learn language yet, Felonia,” Andani said, no doubt quoting one of the many child care and psychology books she had read in preparation. “She needs to know that she’s able to make sounds before she can start assigning meanings to them. It’s just the same as her motor skills.”

Rather than Fel answering herself, her Familiar—a Rottweiler named Valka—got up from where she’d been lying a few feet away. She shook herself out and walked over to sit next to Andani and the baby, claws tapping across the wood-planked floor. Andani visibly tensed; she had always been afraid Valka would be too rough with the baby.

“Aya?” she huffed, and Ayaka turned to look at her. “Du bist Ayaka? Ja?”

Aya grinned widely and repeated, “Ja!” Valka nodded and licked her cheek in encouragement.

“You’re trying to teach her German?” Andani asked, hastily wiping away any drool left on Aya’s cheek.

“Warum nicht?” Fel asked as she got up and dusted herself off. “I speak it. Valka speaks it. Maybe you should learn.” She picked up her watering can and, with one hand brushing Valka’s head for guidance, went outside to check her roses instead.

Andani let out a frustrated sigh and followed after them. “You’re going to confuse her, teaching her two languages at once.”

“Are you serious? Kids are raised bilingual all the time,” Fel said as she poured water just around the bushes’ roots.

“Yes, and it can overwhelm them with too much input.”

“Bullshit. It’s the same as learning more words in one language. She’s smart. She can handle it.”

Andani looked down at the baby in her arms, who was repeatedly babbling, “ja, ja, ja” as Valka tried to stand up and catch her eyes. It wasn’t that she rejected the second language out of spite; she was genuinely worried about Ayaka’s development, and that was the most important thing in the world to her. “I don’t want her to struggle,” she muttered.

“If she doesn’t struggle, she won’t grow,” Felonia said plainly. One hand moved slowly across leaves and petals, ignoring the thorns that scratched here and there. Her other hand took a pair of shears from her belt and expeditiously snipped off any dead buds or withering flowers she found. “You’ll turn her into a lazy, spoiled brat if you keep coddling her like that, and I won’t have it. She’s going to be better than standard Mundanity.” The hard edge to her voice suggested this wasn’t entirely about language lessons.

It had been demonstrated countless times how different their “parenting” styles were, so they’d been butting heads for months. But it was becoming apparent that that wasn’t working out in Aya’s best interest, either. Considering what she knew of Felonia, she was unlikely to suggest a compromise herself, but maybe if one were presented, she wouldn’t be completely disagreeable.

“Maybe you could teach me, too?” Andani asked sheepishly, bringing Aya to kneel on the ground beside Fel.

The Nature witch turned her head slightly in their direction, skeptical. “Would you actually listen?”

“Of course. I have to know at least as much as she does, don’t I? I can’t take care of her if I don’t understand her.”

Fel considered that for a moment. She did have a point. And, wonder of wonders, it seemed like she was finally willing to concede that maybe she didn’t know what was best all the time. “Fine. Let’s hope you can keep up with her pace.”

“I’ll try my best,” Andani said, shaking her head so her braids swung against her shoulders. Still, she supposed, it was much nicer to know they could at least agree on one thing. And that Fel was smiling because of her.

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Witchtober day 2: Urban/city witch

A/N: Still running late. Working on it, though.

She was tapping her heel rapidly where she stood, wedge-heeled sneakers quietly battering the tiled floor. A glance at her phone, and she sighed audibly for the third time in a minute, letting her irritation disperse through the line. It was best to do it in heavily-populated areas like this so that no one person took too much. It was a necessary evil; the only way she could stand to be cheerful on campus all day was to go somewhere like this and get out her leftover frustrations from the day before.

“You guys are busy this morning, huh?” she said as she finally reached the counter, then continued without waiting for an answer: “I need a venti soy milk Green Tea Crème Frappuccino®, but like, with a double shot of espresso.”

“Oh, the green tea frap doesn’t actually come with espresso,” the barista said hesitantly, and Morgan narrowed her eyes.

“And you can’t just, like…put it in?”

“Yeah, yeah, of course! I just didn’t know if—”

“Someone hasn’t had her coffee yet,” said the assistant manager, gently shooing the younger barista away. “Leave him out of your morning rampage; he’s new.”

“Whateverrr,” Morgan said, leaning heavily against the counter to set her eyes intensely on Renee. “No fair substituting yourself; you know I can’t bitch at you.”

“Until you can learn to keep it to yourself, this is all I can do to protect the others from you,” she said, though she was smiling. “$5.14.”

Morgan handed over a ten and added, “Keep the change.”

“Uh-huh. What’s the catch?”

“Go get a drink with me. I mean a real drink, not here,” she offered, angling her shoulders to take advantage of her shirt’s low-cut neckline. Although Renee glanced up and then away quickly, her answer was firm.

“Your change is 4.86,” she said, handing over the cash. “Your drink will be ready at the other side of the counter.”

“You’re killing me, honey,” Morgan whined. Still, she sauntered over to the opposite end of the counter and pouted at Renee until her drink was ready. With a last nasty look at the boy who had taken her order, she swept out of the store and back to her car to rush to her first class.

“What a killjoy,” she answered around her straw. “Guess it’s a bad day for my HoM students.” Her schedule began with History of Magic at 8:30 a.m., populated by the brave or the ignorant who often ended up bearing whatever negativity she had left—or, on rare occasions, countering it with positivity in a way that made everyone’s day a bit better.

This wasn’t one of those days. By the time the class was finished, she felt little but drained. It was hard to get much enthusiasm out of an early morning college class. Hoping to pick herself up, she went out into the courtyard behind the student center and watched her the nightingales that nested there flutter around her and sing cheerfully. At least someone was happy. But being in the sun and around laughing students was helping. She hung around the cafeteria, loud and crowded as it was, to soak up the massive amounts of relief and playful joy around her. For a bit, she went to the library for the peace and focus she could find there.

During her next class at 11, she was practically a different person. She was patient, attentive, making sure that everyone had what they needed and understood the material before she moved on. As usual, her good mood affected those of her students; for those fifty minutes, she was able to revel in being an Empath and a Beacon, as she always did in moments of giving and receiving positive energy.

Still, as nice as she felt presently, she couldn’t help remembering her behavior in the morning and regretting it. Well, regretting it to a certain degree. She knew if she hadn’t gotten it out, it would’ve poisoned the rest of her day. Yet as she sat in her office, sometime around four and after her last class of the day, she was thinking about Renee. After some consideration and internal conflict, she sent a text message to try to break the ice.

Sent, 4:22 pm: Hey. What’s going on?

Received, 4:27 pm: That’s a good song.

Sent, 4:27pm: It was a sincere question, thank you very much.

Received, 4:29 pm: Well nothing’s going on. Thank you very much for asking.

Morgan let out a deep sigh and ruffled her hair a bit harder than necessary.

Sent, 4:30 pm: I’m sorry about this morning.

Sent, 4:30 pm: I was being pushy and manipulative.

Sent, 4:30 pm: You know I’m not always like that.

Received, 4:36 pm: I know.

Sent, 4:37 pm: Still no dice though, huh…?

Received, 5:00 pm: We’ve talked about this, Professor.

She rolled her eyes and groaned mightily.

Sent, 5:02 pm: You’re not even taking classes with me anymore. I’m not your teacher.

Received, 5:40 pm: I would really prefer not to have this conversation again. I want to be your friend. Please let that be enough.

Morgan didn’t respond. By this time, she had gotten home and was lying on her back in bed. It shouldn’t have been such a big deal, she reasoned. There were plenty of other girls in the world. The problem was that some part of her felt she wasn’t being properly represented…but that was wishful thinking. Whether or not she was “naturally” a bitch sometimes, her actions were undeniable. When she was weighed down with everyone else’s negativity, she tended to be hostile herself. She couldn’t blame Renee for rejecting her.

As she was throwing her small and exclusive pity party, she heard something tapping against her window. She frowned and sat up in bed, and the tapping repeated until she came to investigate. Sitting outside on the windowsill, she found a flying squirrel who seemed to be waiting patiently for her to answer.

“Well well,” she said as she carefully opened the window. “Look who’s back in town unannounced.”

“What do ya think I’m doing here if nae announcing myself?” A woman’s voice, thickly laden with a Brogue accent answered her from below. The squirrel leapt from the sill to glide down to her, and she grinned up at Morgan from the shadow of her cowl. “And will ya let an old woman in, or am I having to beg?”

Morgan rolled her eyes. “My door is always unlocked for you, Biddy.” When she met her old friend downstairs, it was with a tight embrace and a kiss planted in her thick ginger hair. “What brings you back?”

“What ever does? The wind. The fair folk,” Biddy explained. “My own fickle whim. You’re doing well, Morríghan?”

“I am,” she replied without thought, disregarding the complete let-down of a day she’d had. In fact, she supposed it was a welcome distraction. “I’m betting you wouldn’t say no to a glass of whiskey.”

“I would’nae say ‘no,’” she agreed, finally pulling her hood back and removing her cloak. It went in the corner along with her bag, and her Familiar crawled up her leg to perch on her shoulder. “If you’re offering.”

“Sit down, ya crone,” Morgan said with a smile and a shake of her head as she went for their glasses. It wasn’t the drink she’d hoped to be having, but she did see herself enjoying this encounter more.

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Witchtober day 1: Seasonal Witch

A/N: In order to get myself back in the groove (if you will), I’m trying to keep up with a written version of Inktober. I found this list of witchy prompts, and my love of witches and making new characters is too strong for me to ignore it.

The date was January 14th, and Keenan couldn’t sleep. They lay in bed, uncovered and minimally clothed, but the air conditioner in their hotel room wasn’t particularly efficient. They were miserable, sticky with sweat, tossing and turning to get comfortable.

“Why not just frost the bed?” their Familiar asked. He was perched on the unused pillow next to them, quick breathing showing frantically through his chest. “This is ridiculous.”

“You know why. I quite like this chain and don’t fancy being banned for property damage,” they said. “Besides, it’s only a few weeks. We can manage for that long.”

“Tell that to Morgan when she gets up you for fallin’ asleep in class,” Io answered, nose twitching in disapproval. “Lettin’ yourself suffer for their sake just don’t make sense.”

“It ain’t for their sake,” Keenan hissed, turning over onto their stomach and frowning up at their rabbit Familiar. “It’s for ours. The last thing we need is to give ‘em a reason to toss us out. We ain’t the ones in charge here, Io. When we’re out of our element like this is, it’s safest to avoid drawing attention. So let it be. Please.”

Silence for a moment, other than the weak wheezing of the AC unit. Io stood and shook himself out, then went to the kitchen to retrieve the blanket Keenan had earlier placed in the freezer. It was a bit daunting to drag back to the bed, but he did. Once they had spread it out, relieved by the layer of cool protection, he burrowed underneath to curl up at their side and preserve the cold between them.

“It’s late,” Io said, pressing his cold nose into their shoulder. “Get your sleep while you can. And ask Morgan about a reset charm tomorrow.”

“I will, darlin’. Remind me,” Keenan muttered, snuggling closer and falling asleep quickly now that they were cooled off. Io sighed and relaxed in their arms. He was well aware that their joint nature made it difficult to remain integrated with Mundane society like many other witches were. He would just as well swear them off and move to the Snowies, but Keenan was a far more social creature than he was. They would be miserable staying so isolated. And, as the night had evidenced, he couldn’t stand seeing them unhappy. He made a mental note to suggest homeostasis spells as their next area of research.

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I’ll be honest: I’ve been having trouble getting anything written lately. My last piece (Youngest Sister, pt. 1) took me some time and effort, and continuing it feels daunting, too. I was working so hard on one particular short story, something about mermaids that ended up being around 6500~ words, I think, and once I finished it…my desire to write just flatlined.

No, that’s not quite right. My desire to write is as strong as ever. Probably more so, considering my deprivation from it. But my will to write…not so much. I work an 8:30-5:30 job and have for around a month now. Haven’t written a damn thing in that time. It feels so stupid to whine that it’s hard.

“Well why don’t you just write?” That’s the question, isn’t it? Just go ahead and do it, right? Easy. I wish it were. There’s so much going on in my head. So much to focus on that I can’t focus on anything. Too many topics and no idea where to start. It’s making me miserable. And it’s silly that other people’s interest is so important to me. Dumb. “You have to write for yourself first.” Yeah, I know. But it’s so less fun when I can’t share it with anyone. Even worse, when I have to nag them to read it…. I’m not saying, “I’ll write whatever I have to for praise and recognition.” I’m saying, “I want the writing I do to be made available to the world and to hear and see the people it touches, the people who will love it.”

This isn’t helpful. I’m so bad at self-encouragement–and this isn’t a cry for help or a demand for you to encourage me. I’m just talking. Look at that. Writing.

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Youngest Sister, pt. 1

Her first response to the world around her was a frown, one she would find herself wearing often in the future. For a moment, she lay still, unaware that she had any other option. Her eyes were open, and her sight was functional, in a manner of speaking. She could see, but nothing she saw was recognizable. She supposed her vision was poor. Or was this simply what things looked like?

“Hey. Hello? Come on, still having trouble starting up?” When another of her senses was engaged, she turned her head toward the source of the stimulus. There was movement in her field of visions and more auditory input. “Oh! You did turn on. I was hoping—uh, never mind. How are you? Uh, can you talk?”

Her frown returned, and she shut her eyes. This made it simpler. “Yes,” she said hesitantly. Evidently, she wasn’t yet practiced enough to employ multiple senses and actions at once. “I don’t…know where I am.”

“That’s okay,” the other voice (presumably a figure with some authority) reassured her. “This is the first time you’ve been fully conscious.”

She felt “fully” was an exaggeration. Very slowly and with no small amount of difficulty, she pushed herself up into a sitting position. She had to remain very still for a few seconds to avoid being overwhelmed by too much sensation. Her discomfort must have shown on her face, as the other voice gave her time to acclimate. When she relaxed, it spoke again.

“I don’t even know where to start,” it said. “You’re keeping your eyes closed. Is there a reason for that?”

“I can’t decipher what I’m seeing,” she explained. “My vision is unclear.”

“Right, that’s what I figured. I tried to work out your prescription, but I don’t know how accurate I was. Try these.”

A hand touched hers, and she jerked away by reflex with a wordless sound of distress. Lacking her sight was a serious disadvantage, and being touched was far outside her comfort zone.

“Whoa, whoa, I’m sorry,” said the other voice cautiously. “Sorry, I was just trying to show you—I went ahead and got some glasses for you. I’m going to set them down on your left side. No touching or anything.”

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